Text Messaging in New Social Media and Youth Cultures

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In this paper, I will explore how teens have used social media as a tool to produce, reproduce and create their own distinct cultures. It will cover the use of platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Youtube that are used by teens to create movements across North America. It will also discuss Cyberbullying and the ways YouTube, Facebook and other forms of social networking technology spread awareness and support throughout their message. Young teens of this day have not only used social media as a tool to communicate with their friends, but they have also used the platform to be young entrepreneurs, bringing awareness to common problems and start different social movements. Instagram and Snapchat are another platform that is apart of new media were it’s been created by youth to connect worldwide also used as a money market tool. Youth have built these platforms to communicate with other youth across North America and to develop a community, which, this paper will discuss how they have created their subcultures to help build their community amongst themselves.

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Much research has been undertaken demonstrating that social media negatively affects young teens and their daily lives. However, there are advantages to social media as well, in particular, the ability to reach out to other young people instantly through different platforms. The paper argues that teens and youth can use social media as tools for them to express/ use their voices and to speak out against social injustices such as bullying, racism and in support of LGBTQ issues.

Social media and Cyber – Bullying

Cyberbullying involves using emails, websites, text messaging, camera phones, blogs, YouTube, Facebook and other forms of social networking technology to spread hurtful, nasty, derogatory vulgar or untrue messages to or about other teens. Dunkels found that ‘Cyberbullying usually threatens the reputation, well-being, security and/or safety of the targeted victim”. Not all social media platforms are harmful and can be a gathering place for positive -discourse where youth seek a safe, nurturing environment for behaviours that foster social responsibility and thoughtful and respectful interactions.

Many different hashtags amongst Facebook and Twitter have been used to create a community where teens come together and fight against bullying and bring awareness to how it may affect others around the world. By going virtual, digital technologies allow youth to recreate private and public youth spaces while platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram provide a general component.

Online youth can build environments that support youth socialization. As social media is expanding throughout North America the more and more teens are involved and connected. The Internet is quickly becoming an integral part of life. According to The PEW Internet & American Life project, “they found that 87 percent of American teens go online, and half of them report going online every day”. Lots of youth have used different platforms to show pictures of how they have experienced bullying and the effects it has on them. Hundreds of teens do not have the support at home to help with bullying online, so they run to Instagram, Youtube, and Twitter to build a community of people going through the same issues. These platforms have helped so many youths across North America by helping prevent suicide and self-harm which in the next year’s rates are expected to go down because of the resources created by their youth community.

Media platforms used by teens

There are advantages and disadvantages to everything in life — including our habits of social networking. The ability to reach people instantly from anywhere is one of the most obvious pros of using social networks. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat are something that teens use throughout their day. Youth use Facebook to stay in touch with their old friends from high school who have moved around the country. Twitter is used to meet brand new people from cities or regions you’ve never heard of before. A website like Facebook could serve as an opportunistic launch pad for a new business owner, or it could be an inevitable source of negative peer pressure for a young teen.

Young teens of this day have not only used social media as a tool to communicate with their friends but, they have also used the platform to be a young entrepreneur, bringing awareness to common problems and start different movements.

According to Anderson, in 2018, three online platforms other than Facebook – YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat – are used by sizable majorities of teens and youth. Meanwhile, 51% of teens now say they use Facebook. The shares of teens who use Twitter and Instagram are mainly comparable to the shares who did so in the 2014-2015 survey”. Instagram and Snapchat are apart of new media, which have been used throughout the years that is constantly growing. They both have grown to be used by youth to express how they feel about social movements and be active participants by creating world word movements like #Youthneedtovote, and #StandStrong. It as well has been created by youth as a money market tool to become young entrepreneurs. Youtube especially has been a platform for youth to create personal blogs and videos that relate to trends within their own subcultures. Popular teenage YouTubers ages 13 – 19 are constantly creating and reaching out to their viewer’s videos for their highly engaged peers. For example, The Media Kix provides information on a Teen named Matty Braps who has 10.4 million subscribers. 15-year-old Matthew Morris, better known as MattyBRaps, is a children’s singer hailing from Georgia. Morris primarily creates song covers and remixes that he posts each week. His most viewed video to date is a music video of the popular song, ‘Stereo Hearts’ by Gym Glass Heroes, which has garnered over 239 million views. Morris has also transformed his online success into mainstream musical stardom. His original music is available on Spotify and other streaming services. He shows little signs of slowing down and maintains a cumulative social reach of over 23.4 million. On Facebook, he has 8.4-page likes, Instagram 3.7 million followers and 3.4 Million fans musically.

Youth Movements

Throughout the year’s youth have started online movements to help promote issues like gun violence, bullying, and many more social problems. During 2015, many movements like ‘ Black Lives Matter ‘ and ‘ Love Wins ‘ started to circulate social media, highlighting critical social issues that are sweeping the U.S. More teenagers are becoming aware of and learning about social issues related to police brutality incidents against African-Americans and questions about LGBTQ rights due mainly to social media. By simply tweeting, reblogging, and sharing on websites like Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram, they join and support these movements.

The power of social media is so strong in today’s society that the strongest way to promote a movement or make people aware is to post it on blogs or news feed. A big youth movement that is going on right now is Scouts, with over 40 million members from 223 countries around the world, the Scouts is the largest youth movement in the world. “It is a voluntary non-political educational movement for young people, open to all without distinction of gender, origin, race or creed. Scouting offers young people the opportunity to develop their full emotional, intellectual, physical, social and spiritual potentials as individuals, as responsible global citizens, and as members of their local, national and international communities”.

There are National Scout Organizations all over the world. Another social movement created by youth would be World Youth Alliance, “With over a million members (youth under 30), the World Youth Alliance promotes the dignity of every human being and works to build a global culture that supports social and economic development, human rights, global health and education. They do this by speaking at the UN, OAS, EU and other important international and regional organizations, as well as through providing training programs, and organizing global campaigns, regional events, internships, camps and festivals” National Scout Organizations. 

Youth creating these movements have created a family within the youth/ teen community. They use the tools online to work as a team and help different youth around the world better themselves with support from people in their community. According to David Buckingham, Youth learn how to use the technologies, but they also learn to understand the power relationship, to be critical about the assumptions, to speak the language of youth and generally how to get this done’.

Racism and Media

Youth have created activist movements across North America using social media to help their voices be heard. One huge movement that was created was Black Lives Matter, which is a U.S. activist movement that condemns African-American police brutality. It began in July 2013 after the shooting of an unarmed African-American teenager, Trayvon Martin. The movement has accumulated more recognition and support, especially on social media, with the 2014 deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. With the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag, More recognition and support has accumulated in the movement, particularly on social media. It has become easier to mobilize public opinion on and off the net with the hashtag # BlackLivesMatter.

Teens have created these platforms to help promote change around the world that have positively affected change around the world. Social activist like Millie Bobby Brown age 14 has used her social media platform to encourage fans to sign the # GoBlue petition, an appeal to world leaders to respect and uphold the rights of children. Brown has used its massive social media platform throughout the year to discuss important issues such as education for girls, childhood cancer, and gun control. According to Lance Bennett, As increasing numbers of young people seek to master the use of media tools to express themselves, explore their identities, and connect with peers to be active creators as well as consumers of culture”.

LGBTQ issues and Media

David Buckingham states “Researchers in the field of virtual communication argue that conditions for communication online offer possibilities for people to explore their identities and to express ideas that are not easily expressed in offline contexts. On the Internet, young people can create a sphere of intimacy where the things that are being expressed will not reach the local peer group and be a cause for slander. Social media has been a big platform for youth in North America understanding the meaning of their community”. Teens have used platforms like Facebook to create different movements against bullying within their community.

One student who decided to take a stand is Cody Rogers, and Oklahoma teen that was reportedly beaten unconscious because of his sexual orientation after defending a female friend at a party. After the beating, Rogers used social media tools to upload a picture of his injuries, hoping to address bullying of the LGBTQ communities in his state. He then created a Facebook campaign to get social media users attention and put an end to bullying. He created a Facebook page ‘Help Stop the Stomping,’ and it received 11,000 likes. Roger using that platform brought a larger community of youth around to help fight for the same thing. Youth have used YouTube as a tool to connect with other queer teens around the world.

According to Christopher Pullen, He sees queer youth using YouTube to overcome these obstacles and facilitate their identity development through two essential methods; visibility and acculturation. By ‘acculturation,’ I mean queer youth receiving information about shared culture and experience to better equip themselves to both interact within the queer community and to survive in mainstream culture. I mean ‘visibility’ in two ways: both viewers seeing a varied representation of queerness, and vloggers deliberately making themselves visible and ‘real”.


In Conclusion, Social media can be used as a positive tool for teens to create their own distinct cultures and let their voices be heard by the millions of people who use the same social platforms. Mass media is the new subculture that continues to grow every day and youth continue to use it to promote, reproduce and create a community within their subculture.

Works Cited

  1. Anderson, M., Jiang, J., Anderson, M., & Jiang, J. (2018, November 30). Teens, Social Media & Technology 2018. Retrieved from https://www.pewinternet.org/2018/05/31/teens-social-media-technology-2018/
  2. Bennett, W. L. (2008). Civic life online: Learning how digital media can engage youth. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.
  3. Buckingham, D. (2008). Youth, identity, and digital media. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  4. Cyberbullying Campaigns: Using the Tools for Good. (2012). Retrieved from https://www.niot.org/blog/cyberbullying-campaigns-using-tools-good
  5. Dunkels, E., Frånberg, G., & Hällgren, C. (2011). Youth culture and net culture: Online social practices. Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference.
  6. National Scout Organizations. (2016). Retrieved from https://www.scout.org/worldwide
  7. Pullen, C. (2014). Queer youth and media cultures.
  8. Teenage YouTubers Setting Trends On Social Media: Top 10 List. (2019, March 14). Retrieved from http://mediakix.com/2018/07/top-teenage-youtubers-trendsetters/#gs.33ahet
07 April 2022

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